Saturday, 26 April 2014

Cherry Chimes speaks to Mist Rolling In from the Trent

Match Preview
AFCB v Nottingham Forest
Blogger Interview - Mist Rolling In From The Trent

Well Brighton & Hove Albion finished Bournemouth's play-off hopes last night unless there is an amazing turnaround in goal difference, but AFCB still have some say in who might make those play-offs and who could go down with their remaining games against Nottingham Forest and Millwall. We had a great match against Nottingham Forest earlier in the season with both teams really going full out attack for each other. I expect a similar scenario this weekend but what does Steve Wright author of the Mist Rolling In From The Trent blog for Forest fans? Is he all excited about a new era under Stuart Pearce and what of this season - can Forest still make the play-offs despite everything?

CC: Do you think Billy Davies media blackout back fired on him?

MRIFTT: It was about far more than a media blackout to be honest, the return of Davies to Forest felt like it was a personal vendetta and the fallout from it has been massive, but his attitude certainly ensured that a section of fans were unhappy with him in charge and made moving him on after the Derby defeat easier.

Davies was given huge control of the club though, his cousin and agent was brought in as an unofficial Chief Executive, his son and nephew were signed into the under 21 side and a whole swathe of staff on both the football and administration sides of the club were removed from their posts. The owner was very naive in the way he handled Davies and it would be nice to think he wised up when sacking him, but it could just as easily be that he made the move because we dropped out of the top six, which is not so reassuring about the future.

CC: Were fan expectations set too high this season for the Forest team or do you think they should have done better with the squad and investment you have?

MRIFTT: In my opinion expectations have been wrong at Forest for years. I say wrong rather than too high because I think that the focus of the whole club, including fans, has become extremely short term. And I say my opinion because that’s all it is in the end and we aren’t all going to agree.

I want to see Forest invest time and energy into building a structure that can deliver a club that we can be proud of whatever league we are playing in. It doesn’t feel like we are that club at the moment, we have no long term vision, as I said before the football and administration structures have been destroyed, we have been reported to the Football League by Chelsea and Derby for unpaid bills and we have had winding up orders served by other creditors. We feel like a club that is both disorganised and unpopular and I don’t like either of those things.

As a big club with a proud history we should be looking to return to the top flight but we need to invest in the processes and foundations that can deliver that. At the moment out short term thinking is damaging financially and also leads to an atmosphere where the team are booed if they concede a goal and at times it just isn’t a great place to be.

CC: What has it been like watching games at the City ground under caretaker manager, Gary Brazil?

MRIFTT: Brazil got the job because he was the only significant football person left at the club after Davies left. He’s a good bloke, speaks very well and is doing a good job in the academy. It was always going to be tricky to come in after Davies left and pick the club up, especially with all the injuries we have had. As a result the continued inability to win made it quite painful to watch at times but even before we posted back to back wins against Birmingham and Leeds I had felt more positive about the club.

Brazil has taken the opportunity to give youth a chance in the form of Ben Osborn and he has been hugely impressive. We have also seen first team debuts for Stephen McLaughlin and Dimitar Evtimov and crucially, rather than moaning about injuries, Brazil has got on and worked with the players he has available. I think that has lifted players. Matt Derbyshire is the obvious example with 4 goals in 3 games having not had a look in prior to the change of manager, but I think others are benefiting from the manager’s faith in them too. I’m not getting carried away about beating Birmingham and Leeds, who are both poor teams, but I think that Brazil has begun to change the culture of the club and hope that will continue beyond his time as manager.

CC: How excited are fans generally that a club hero like Physco (and I say that affectionately as an England fan) will be in charge next season?

MRIFTT: Personally I am very excited. Pearce is one of my heroes and I have also been very impressed with the way he has talked about what he plans to do at the club. Some people have expressed concern about his CV to date but I am very positive about him coming back and needed that emotional excitement back after the misery of Davies. I just hope that Pearce can manage the owner effectively because although his money is propping the club up at the moment he has been less than impressive so far and is my biggest fear for the future.

CC: Did you think that the QPR game had killed your season until your recent win against Birmingham?

MRIFTT: The way we fell apart in the final few minutes against QPR really was a hammer blow but it has been great to see the side bounce back with two wins. It amazes me that with two games left and after an awful run of form we are still in the hunt for the playoffs but I am fairly relaxed about the end of season. The change of manager was worth humiliation at the hands of Derby and the emergence of Osborn has given the end of season some genuine value so anything else is a bonus. If we did make it into that 6th spot though, we could well be faced with Derby and the chance to regain some local pride.

CC: There are so many teams in with a chance of that sixth spot - do you think it's all about nerve now?

MRIFTT: I think the number of teams competing for that final spot and the inability of any of them to claim it demonstrates that none of us are really good enough at the moment. It will be about nerve and scraping into the playoffs may be an impetus for whoever makes it to kick on but realistically Derby, Wigan and QPR are better than the rest of us and one of them should go up in the end – personally I’d expect that to be Wigan but the Championship is rarely predictable.

CC: Jamie Paterson has been on fire since the New Year but do you think Premiership clubs will try and come in for him over the summer?

MRIFTT: I said last summer that despite spending lots of money Paterson was the most exciting signing for me, he fitted with the philosophy I want us to take, a young player with obvious talent from the lower leagues who we could bring on. He has found it harder in this winless run, which isn’t surprising with important midfield players missing, but has had a great 2014 so far. I honestly think he would benefit from staying at Forest for a bit longer rather than going to a Premier League club. It’s more short term thinking that leads to young players jumping at a big move and I think it harms many of them in the long run.

CC: What players do you expect to leave Forest over the summer?

MRIFTT: We have a few out of contract in the summer, Greening, Moussi, Jara, Miller, Derbyshire, and Tudgay. I would not greatly miss any of them and there are some big earners in there, but Derbyshire has made a shout recently for an extra year with 4 goals in 3 games. There are also question marks over Abdoun and Djebbour and we have players on loan so there is a big opportunity for Pearce to restructure his squad.

Having said that, there is a very strong core and the club have announced that David Vaughan’s loan is to be made permanent in the summer which is great news. Clearly we need to look at forwards and we also need to be sure that our many injured players are able to return to full fitness as some have had serious injuries and been out for a long time, but if they are all fit we are not far off and we have the added bonus of emerging young players now being recognised too.

CC: I remember Djamel Abdoun score a classy penalty where he just chipped the ball in slowly (perhaps in the FA Cup) but he hasn’t scored many since – how do you rate him as a winger?

MRIFTT: It is very difficult to say, he has shown some quality at times but there seems to be a problem with him and his fellow Algerian international Rafik Djebbour settling at the club. You could argue that they have not had a proper chance but it wouldn’t surprise me if both left in the summer. Ironically Abdoun was in Stuart Pearce’s Manchester City squad as a youngster, although he only made one appearance as a substitute.

CC: How excited about playing AFCB as you look at the table now?

MRIFTT: I said before that I am relaxed about where we end up now but of course I am excited about the potential for our season to burst back into life. I have a lot of time for Eddie Howe and have been impressed by what he has done at Bournemouth. Both he and the club come across well. Unfortunately I cannot make it to the game, although I would love to visit Dean Court, so I will probably be at another match somewhere closer to home keeping tabs on events.

CC: The Cherries have humbled some good teams at Dean Court like QPR, Reading, Wigan and Leeds so are you expecting a difficult game and what is your score prediction?

MRIFTT: Your home form has been very good and I always saw this as a very tricky game for us. At this stage of the season though you just cannot say what will happen as nerves are a big part of things. I suppose with our respective results in the last two games the pressure is now on us more than you, so that probably means you are more likely to get the result but I’ve got to back my team so I’ll say 1-0 to Forest setting up another huge season finale for us at home to Brighton.

CC: Thank you Steve for your comments. I like a fan that sees the big picture and I think we can see that you have a lot of patience for your Forest side. It was a surprise to me that Stuart Pearce has decided to come back but not until next season when his enthusiasm might have got Forest winning again sooner, but Gary Brazil has done reasonably well and in recent matches Forest have been as good as any of the chasing pack. I am also relaxed about the result now, and I only hope our players can play their relaxing style of football against a strong Forest side. In some way's it is a shame that the two teams are not even closer to the sixth spot but I think there will be plenty of goal mouth action in this game and I can't wait to see who comes out on top.

Please visit Steve's excellent Mist Rolling In From The Trent blog that not only talks about Forest but several other of the Midland clubs and wider football matters. 

You can also predict some results and get a big return from Free Bet Negotiator

Finally, well done Simon Francis on winning the Echo/Mick Cave player of the year award.

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